With hindsight, the last week of April was probably not the best time to visit Sapporo, the vibrant regional capital of Hokkaido, Japan.
The winter ski season was over though it was still cold with patches of snow about, especially in the hillier areas. Spring comes late in these northerly latitudes and the cherry blossom was appearing just as we were leaving.
Still, we had a good time and managed to find plenty to do. One of the highlights for me was a trip to the old Sapporo beer factory which is now a museum and beer garden.
I was interested to see how the brand’s label designs and advertising posters had changed over the decades since the brewery was established in 1876.
The first brew master was trained in Germany and the original brewing machinery came from there so it is not surprising that there was a good deal of German influence in some of the early beer labels.
The first advertising posters featured kimono-clad geishas to appeal both to domestic audiences and the export markets of Asia and further afield.
By the 1920s and early 1930s Japan was copying the fashions and styles of the West and this shows in this poster.
In the lead-up to World War Two Japan was turning nationalistic and this may be why this 1937 poster features traditional Japanese dress again.
After the War, kimonos were out and Western styles were back in favour. The model in this 1956 poster had something of the Audrey Hepburn about her, an actress who is still fondly remembered in Japan.
From the 1990s onwards, TV and sporting personalities tended to be used in posters. I prefer the old poster art but I suppose the modern adverts sell more beer.
A selection of beer brands on display at the museum. I haven’t come across Borneo Beer in my travels to Borneo so I guess this brand is defunct.
After the tour around the Sapporo Beer Museum we retired to the tasting room to sample a selection of beers.
I find that the taste of beers made by the major Japanese brands such as Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory are much of a muchness – all excellent quality and very refreshing but it would be nice to have a bit more variety of flavours and colours.